Press Release Article


Date: Dec 17, 2013
Press Release Number: 141-2013

Airport on track to reach 50 million passengers this year, as AirTrain celebrates its tenth year in operation

John F. Kennedy International Airport will soon mark the 50th anniversary since its renaming in 1963 in honor of the late President John F. Kennedy. The anniversary comes as the airport is on track to reach a record 50 million annual passengers by year’s end and as it celebrates the 10th anniversary today of the transformative AirTrain JFK service.

On Dec. 24, 1963, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith honored the memory of their brother, President Kennedy, during a ceremony at the old International Arrivals Building to mark the renaming of New York International Airport (more commonly known as Idlewild Airport) to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Among the dignitaries present were then-New York City Mayor Robert Wagner, then-New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes and then-agency Chairman S. Sloan Colt.

Nearly 800 guests attended the renaming ceremony, at which Senator Kennedy said, “This is a dedication of which President Kennedy would have been proud.’’

Fifty years later, as the airport also marks the 65th anniversary of its opening, JFK Airport is poised to reach 50 million annual passengers in the final days of 2013, which would shatter the airport’s current record of 49.3 million set only last year with slightly more than half of those travelers taking international flights.

Today also marks the 10th anniversary of the start of operations on AirTrain JFK on December 17, 2003, a date chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the pioneering Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. AirTrain JFK has continually set ridership records, with the 2012 record of 5.7 million passengers expected to be eclipsed again this year.

AirTrain JFK has transformed the airport, providing mass-transit to and from the airport’s Central Terminal Area and Manhattan via connections with LIRR and subway trains at Jamaica Station and the subway at Howard Beach station.

“John F. Kennedy International Airport has been a premier gateway to America over the past half-century and is poised to retain that title over the next 50 years with billions of dollars in public and private investment,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “The agency and its airline partners are investing in terminal modernization, airfield improvements and customer service initiatives to ensure JFK Airport continues its 20th century tradition of excellence throughout the 21st century and remains an economic engine for the region.”

Billions of dollars have been committed toward terminal and airfield improvements in recent years at JFK, helping to modernize the airport that opened in 1948 to augment New York City flight service at the constrained confines of LaGuardia Airport.

The Port Authority has completely rebuilt JFK’s Bay Runway and made other runway improvements, while also installing high-speed taxiways to help reduce ground delays by allowing planes to exit the runways quicker. The agency also has initiated a program to keep passengers and planes at the gates until their flights are ready for imminent takeoff, reducing lengthy queues and helping to save jet fuel and reduce pollution.

At the same time, Delta Air Lines created nine new gates with an investment of more than $1.2 billion in an ongoing expansion of Terminal 4, with 481,000 square-feet of new building space and 241,000 square-feet of renovated building area completed in May. Project construction directly and indirectly created 6,400 jobs, $360 million in wages and $1.8 billion in economic activity.

Additionally, JetBlue Airways is investing more than $200 million to expand Terminal 5 with a 145,000 square-foot addition and creation of a new international arrivals and Federal Inspection Services area to handle up to 1,200 passengers per hour. Overall, the work is expected to create 1,090 jobs, $74 million in wages and $325 million in economic activity by the time it is finished in early 2015.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit

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